Montgomery Man Sentenced In Identity Theft Related State Income Tax Fraud

John Irving Wheeler, 31 years old, of Montgomery, was sentenced to serve 210 months of incarceration on October 31, 2013. Wheeler was also ordered to pay one million dollars in restitution to the States of Georgia and Michigan. Wheeler pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and mail fraud on April 1, 2013, based on his role in a stolen identity scheme to that resulted in Wheeler and others receiving fraudulent state income tax refunds.

According to the court documents, from February 2008 through at least November 2009, Wheeler and others stole identifications of other individuals, including their names, dates of birth, and Social Security numbers. Wheeler and his coconspirators would then use that information to electronically file fraudulent state income tax returns with numerous states, including Georgia and Michigan. The returns generated from the fraudulent state income tax refunds were either mailed or electronically transferred to Wheeler and his coconspirators. Bank records and information obtained from the Georgia Department of Revenue and the Michigan Department of Treasury showed that Wheeler and his coconspirators received $1,060,732 in fraudulent state income tax refunds. Agents also executed a search warrant at Wheeler’s residence and recovered over 300 stolen identities. Wheeler was attempting to flush paperwork containing the stolen identities down a toilet after agents arrived at Wheeler’s residence to execute the warrant.

The case was investigated by Special Agents of the United States Secret Service and the Alabama Alcohol Beverage Control Board. Assistant U.S. Attorney Todd Brown prosecuted the case.

Note that they do not tell us how or where the identity information was stolen or acquired. That information is not provided in the indictment that I downloaded from PACER nor any of the records available in the docket. Was this mail theft? An insider breach? What?  Why does DOJ often withhold this information from the public?

This post used information provided by the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Middle District of Alabama


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